Work and Pensions Secretary out of touch on rape clause - Sturgeon

Work and Pensions Secretary out of touch on rape clause - Sturgeon”

The Work and Pensions Secretary was giving evidence to MSPs on the Social Security Committee, but the session had to be suspended twice after shouts were heard from the public gallery.

The Work and Pensions Secretar was heckled by members of the public during the meeting. However, several organisations in Scotland have refused to cooperate - including Scottish Women's Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland. But Johnstone said the changes could be "incredibly invasive and upsetting" for women.

An audience member shouted "you can't get into work if you're dead" at McVey as she argued Universal Credit is a "supportive system" aimed at helping people into work.

At the meeting of the Social Security Committee, SNP MSP Ben Macpherson called the current Universal Credit system "cynical" and "critical".

Mark Griffin, Labour MSP, warned the system could support financial domestic abuse without automatically splitting payments between partners.

She said the department reaches out to vulnerable people and asked for the details of a man who was sanctioned while in hospital having had a heart attack, whose case was raised by SNP MSP George Adam.

She said: "Universal Credit is fit for goal but with this slow rollout, this learn-as-you-go approach which we are doing, that is to make sure that should there are any issues within the system that need to be supported and altered, well we've done that, we're doing that, because it does need to work for everyone".

Ms McVey insisted Universal Credit is "fit for purpose" but Mr Adam told her that her approach is "completely devoid from the real world".

Reforms of the welfare system, which came into force last April, means child tax credits are now capped at two children. We're speaking about how UC [Universal Credit] is progressive.

I want to give you the opportunity to apologise to the people behind you, the people across my constituency and the people across Scotland, who've suffered greatly through the mistakes of social security reform... and I think are due that apology from the DWP, for the suffering and distress that's been caused to them.

The Government said it wanted to limit child tax credit to the first two children because it wanted "people on benefits to make the same choices as those supporting themselves exclusively through work". So it is again looking for a fairness between people who are claiming and people who are working, that they're all considering and making the same decisions in life.

Benefits would continue for children but the two-child limit referred to tax credits, she clarified.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: "We're ensuring women in these bad circumstances are supported in every way so they can receive the help that they need". Scottish Women's Aid has stated that the third-party processing of claims "is not compassionate, nor can it ever be made to be so". So we do need to get that clarity, get that certainty, on how those changes are going to be made.

She asked if the minster was comfortable that women had to prove non-consensual conception in order to access a benefit.

Ms McVey said the provision could offer women "double support" by giving them money as well as an opportunity to talk that they may have "never had before".

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